A second Prototype team representing the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship could be on the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year, with BAR1 Motorsports set to submit an entry request for the French endurance classic.
The Brian Alder-led squad has stepped up to the top prototype ranks with the ex-Keating Motorsports Riley Mk. 30 Gibson, which will feature significant aero and mechanical updates for next year, with the hope of taking the fight to other LMP2 teams both Stateside and abroad.
“We’ll put an entry request in and see what happens,” Alder told Sportscar365. “That will be exciting if we can go do that next year.”
Alder is no stranger to Le Mans, having served as crew chief and team manager for Intersport Racing during its appearances from 2003-06, including the team’s LMP2 class victory in 2004 with Clint Field, Bill Binnie and Rick Sutherland.
“It’s changed a lot, from what I’ve heard,” Alder said. “I was over there ten years ago. It would be exciting to see how it all goes.
“Obviously David Cheng, who drove with us last year, has had a lot of success there. There’s no real black art to it; it’s the same stuff we do all the time [in IMSA]. We feel like we can go and do a good job, and have some fun.”
Alder said the interest level among its crop of existing drivers, who are expected to make up the team’s WeatherTech Championship lineup, has been high, with the team likely to get help from an existing European-based organization for logistics and support equipment.
“We would run it ourselves but we’d look for someone to help support it,” he said. “They would help us with the European-spec stuff we don’t have.
“A lot of mechanics we’ve worked with in the past are European-based, so we’d probably re-connect with a lot of them.”
With Keating having sold his chassis to BAR1, Alder’s Ohio-based team is expected to be the only Riley LMP2 team requesting an entry, which could help its chances with the ACO Selection Committee.
BAR1 would join JDC-Miller Motorsports, which secured IMSA’s at-large invite for LMP2 courtesy of its driver Mikhail Goikberg, who won the Jim Trueman Award this year. Both teams would be making its respective debuts in the race.
Major Updates to Riley LMP2
Alder said the Riley LMP2 will receive signifiant mechanical updates ahead of January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona that will likely transform the car’s handling and performance.
The FIA granted the car its single-permitted ‘Joker’ that allows mechanical and aero updates for 2018.
Many of the same developments made to the Riley-chassied Mazda RT24-P will carry over to the LMP2-spec machine, including all new components from the bellhousing on back.
“Every single mechanical piece [will be] new,” Alder said. “Suspension design, a new bellhousing.
“Right now, the bellhousing is the big lead time item; it takes like 12 weeks to make that. It’s almost done and that’s the one thing we’re waiting on. Everything else is ready.”
BAR1 took part in this week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona with aero updates only and expects to get the full package in time for next month’s Roar Before the Rolex 24.
“Multimatic has been very helpful, the same with Riley,” Alder said. “They’ve been trying to help as much as they can to get us up to speed, even the Visit Florida guys have been helping us out.”